A webinar is a seminar that is conducted over the internet. However, it can be so much more than just one speaker presenting content to a virtual audience - the format allows for all sorts of content, as well as audience engagement.
If you are unfamiliar with webinars, it’s a good idea to attend a few types of webinars to get a taster for what is possible.
If you have never run a webinar before, knowing where to begin can be daunting. This step-by-step guide takes you through the basics of how to create a webinar from scratch.
1. What’s your topic?
All great webinars have a very clear topic so the audience knows exactly what to expect. Be specific when choosing your topic.
If your topic is one that has been done many times, make sure you put a fresh spin on it by choosing a different angle, speakers or target audience.
Reviewing previous material you have produced, attending other webinars, and checking out discussion forums and social media will give you other indications of topics that will engage your audience.
Some great questions to ask to identify your topic are:
Are you a specialist in a specific field?
What can you share in 10, 20 or 30 minutes that’s of value to your audience?
2. Start preparing early
Decide on the format
Once you have your topic, the next step is to decide on the format that your webinar will take. Here are some popular formats:
Single speaker - this could be yourself or an expert. A single speaker format is like a traditional seminar. It can work well with small audiences as the speaker can answer all the questions or have an in depth discussion with audience members, however, it is also appropriate for large audiences.
Interview- this involves one or more subject matter experts being asked a number of predetermined questions by an interviewer. Be sure to engage the audience for questions they would like to ask the interviewer when registering to get a clear idea on what your audience wants to know.
Moderated panel discussion - this is where several speakers talk about a predetermined topic. This is different from an interview as it is a discussion, rather than a question and answer session. You will need a moderator to keep the conversation moving and the audience engaged.
Select a platform
Once you have decided on the format of your webinar, you will need to select a platform that will suit your event format. There are lots of many different digital platforms you could choose to host your event. You will need to weigh up the cost and the functionality with the number of events you plan to host and, or the number of attendees you expect to have. Some platforms offer free trials or free basic versions.
It’s important to keep your audience engaged throughout the webinar by involving them in Q+A, breakout rooms and polls. Make sure you check out what options your platform has.
Find your speakers
If you are using other people as speakers or subject matter experts, contact them early to ensure they are willing and available. They might also have valuable ideas to assist with your content planning.
Also consider if you will need a MC or moderator to facilitate the event, or an assistant to assist with the technical aspects of the event, such as attendees asking questions.
Pick the right date and time
This might be obvious but select a date and time that will best suit your audience and works for your speaker. A workday would be preferred for a career related webinar, whereas an event aimed at students should be after school hours or on the weekends.
3. How will people sign up?
Once you’ve chosen your platform, you can create your registration link. There are several ways to do this. The first and easiest would be directly from the platform. Simply select the details you’d like your attendees to give you. You can also type custom questions, for example, if you’d like to elicit topical questions from your attendees.
Beware that asking too many compulsory questions when people are registering may turn people away.
Once your webinar is ready, you can send the webinar link to your registered attendees.
Just because it is a virtual event doesn’t mean it has to be all free. Check out this article to decide if you should charge for your event.
4. Publicise and promote
Once you have the details of your event finalised, submit your event.
Promote your event by sharing it with your customers or members, listing it on your website and using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Make sure you tag @TechweekNZ in your posts so we can promote it for you as well.
5. Get ready
To keep the audience engaged, it is important to have some visual content, such as slides or props, for your audience to look at during the webinar.
To give your event a professional feel, consider creating a holding slide with the title of the event and slides to introduce the speakers. Keep these slides simple without too many words, colours or images.
You may also consider having props or your product on hand for demonstration. Have it visible and ensure the camera is able to focus on the object.
Equipment and space
You will need a phone or computer, good internet connection (if possible, connect to the internet using an ethernet cord, rather than relying on wifi), headphones and microphone, and a quiet space to conduct your webinar. Spruce up the background with a plant or picture. Make sure you can lock the door so you’re free from distractions.
If you can, have a backup laptop that’s fully charged and set up your webinar platform and slides in case something goes wrong with the equipment you are using.
Practice makes perfect
It’s important to practice your webinar before you run it, and this includes doing a test run on the platform to ensure you are familiar with how it will work on the day. It’s a good idea to run a test with your speakers as well.
6. Run your webinar
Don’t forget to record your webinar by using the recording function of your platform. You can use this recording in a number of ways, such as distributing it to those who missed your webinar, replaying in a different time zone, or repurposing it for social media.
7. Follow up with attendees
After the webinar, send your attendees an email to thank them for attending and request any feedback so you can learn for your next event. A quick survey is an easy way to get feedback. If possible, include a link to the recording of the event for those who weren’t able to attend.
We know running a webinar may sound like a lot of work, but in many ways, webinars are much easier to organise than a physical event. Webinars also allow you to reach a larger audience as there are no geographical barriers to stop people attending your event.
If you have any questions, contact your local regional coordinator.